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Old Testament Essays

On-line version ISSN 2312-3621
Print version ISSN 1010-9919

Old testam. essays vol.24 n.2 Pretoria  2011


"My Word is like fire": The consuming power of YHWH's word



Wilhelm J. Wessels

University of South Africa





The concept "Word of Yhwh" is an important one to many of the prophets of the Old Testament. It is no different in the Book of Jeremiah. Two particular instances in Jeremiah are of interest for the purpose of this article. The first instance is in one of the laments of Jeremiah in 20:9 and the other in Jeremiah 23:29. The author/authors of the two passages in Jeremiah bridge the divide between the two domains: the divine and the natural, by using a metaphor in which the "Word of Yhwh" and the image of "fire" are juxtaposed. The metaphor under discussion here therefore serves the purpose of creating a better understanding of the power of Yhwh's word as it impacted both the life of the prophet Jeremiah, and the lives of the people who should hear these words (cf. 20:9). In 23:29 the same metaphor has the function of expressing the power of Yhwh's word to destroy deceitful words and to safeguard the true prophetic word.



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Prof. Wilhelm J. Wessels
Department of Old Testament and Ancient Near Eastern Studies
University of South Africa
P. O. Box 392, Unisa, 0003

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